There’s a lot to be said about the Charleston Gazette-Mail becoming another Ogden Republican, rightwing rag and since the process is just beginning, I’m sure that I’ll get numerous opportunities to comment in the upcoming weeks.
The cheering from those who stand the most to gain from the demise of the state’s most important journalistic voice has begun, however, as today’s Guardian documents. The headline reads:
Coal chiefs mock reporter as critical West Virginia media voice goes bust
In a room packed with coal industry leaders in Charleston, West Virginia, a speaker held up a fake “pink slip” for a local newspaper reporter who covers the business, and mockingly said he wished the journalist could be in attendance.
The crowd erupted into laughter because the reporter, Ken Ward, who has covered the industry with an unforgiving eye for years, was not there. The pink slip is a nod to the fact that his publication, the Charleston Gazette, recently filed for bankruptcy. The stunt was first reported by Taylor Kuykendall, a fellow coal reporter for the S&P Global Market Intelligence, the news and financial data website.
The speaker, Robert McLusky, is lead attorney for Massey Energy, which owned the Upper Big Branch mine when it exploded in 2010, killing 29 workers. Ward, a 25-year reporting veteran led the Gazette’s aggressive and detailed coverage of the disaster, peppering the company with questions about the regulatory corner-cutting that led to the fatal explosion.
Has any Ogden reporter or editorial ever asked the coal industry a tough question?
I try my best to follow the coal industry and there is no doubt in my mind that Ward is the best reporter out there. I’m sure he’ll be one of the first to go.
Today’s Gazette-Mail did carry an update on their bankruptcy and sale:
[Bankruptcy Judge] Volk scheduled another hearing for Feb. 7 to rule on the motion for the 30-day bidding process. If he grants the motion, the 30-day auction window will open. . . .
Even though Wheeling Newspapers was the highest bidder as Charleston newspapers filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, other companies will be able to bid on the Gazette-Mail during that 30-day time frame.